The Indians could not protect an early 4-0 lead as the Toronto Blue Jays rallied with four runs in the fourth inning off of starter Mike Clevinger and tacked on four more runs late against the Cleveland bullpen to claim an 8-4 win in the series opener on Friday from Progressive Field.
The two-run home run had been an issue in each of Corey Kluber’s first two starts. On Monday night, it was his best friend. A key and needed blast from Bradley Zimmer in the fifth inning gave the Indians’ ace just enough run support and his eight innings of dominant pitching gave Cleveland a 2-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers on another chilly day from Progressive Field.
In his defense of his second Cy Young Award, Kluber has looked like a pitcher with postseason aspirations and more hardware in mind as he has put up impressive numbers once again on the mound for the Tribe. But despite his best efforts, the Indians had dropped both of his first two starts as two-run home runs (one by Seattle’s Nelson Cruz in the season opener and another by Los Angeles’ Shohei Ohtani in his second start) off of the right-hander and minimal run support had kept Kluber out of the win column. That changed on Monday, as while the Tribe bats remained ice cold on another frigid night in Cleveland, he made the two runs of support that he received stand up as the Indians (5-5) moved back to .500 with their first consecutive wins of the 2018 campaign.
In a game that featured a pair of the top arms in the American League in Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco and Mariners left-hander James Paxton, it was offense that would prove to be the story of the day. Neither pitcher would last six innings and both would be tagged for all of the runs scored on the afternoon.
While the offseason has been historically slow and the winter has crawled along at an even slower pace, we at Did The Tribe Win Last Night look ahead to the warmer days of the 2018 season by remembering Tribe players past and present.
Countdown to Opening Day – 24 days
For the last year and a half, 6’7” southpaw Andrew Miller, the current resident 24 in a Cleveland Indians uniform, has been one of the more dominant relief pitchers in the game, earning his first two All-Star appearances in that span. Now, the 32-year-old lefty is in the final year of his contract with the Indians, and if he continues to pitch as well as he has over the last few years, he will likely outprice himself from the team’s future.
In a game dominated by stellar pitching by both ball clubs, a leadoff solo home run by New York’s Greg Bird off of former teammate Andrew Miller in the seventh inning provided the only run of the contest and the Yankees held off a late Cleveland Indians rally in a 1-0 final on Sunday night.
The victory guaranteed at least one more day in the Yankees’ season as they fended off elimination in the American League Division Series and avoided a sweep at the hands of the Tribe, who lost for just the fifth time in the last 40 games and were shut out for the first time since July 14 in Oakland, the first game of the second half of the season.
Trevor Bauer brought a no-hitter into the sixth, Jay Bruce was involved in producing all four Cleveland runs, and the familiar bullpen tandem of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen closed out Game 1 in usual fashion as the Indians blanked the New York Yankees with their 20th shutout of the season in a 4-0 victory on Thursday night in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
All questions about Bauer starting the opener of the playoffs for the Indians were silenced as his excellent numbers against the Yankees in 2017 continued in his second ALDS Game 1 start in as many seasons for the Tribe. He contained a strong Yankees lineup all game long and got a big effort from one of the newest members of the ball club.
Edwin Encarnacion and Francisco Lindor each homered and the Cleveland relief corps handled the rest on Thursday as the Indians completed the three-game sweep in Anaheim of the Los Angeles Angels, 4-1.
It was a “bullpen day” kind of effort on the mound for the Indians (96-57), who used six different pitchers to wrap up the season series sweep of the Angels while remaining a game in back of the neighbor Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in all of baseball. The win increased the Indians’ club record for consecutive road wins to 14 in a row while putting the Tribe at a 27-1 mark in its last 28 games. That feat has been accomplished just three times in Major League Baseball history.
Is there anything that this Cleveland Indians team cannot do?
Finding themselves down in the ninth inning for the first time in a 22-game span, the Indians rallied down to their final out to tie the game against Kansas City closer Kelvin Herrera and won the game on a walk-off single the next inning down the right field line by Jay Bruce as the Tribe clinched a trip to the postseason for the second straight year in a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Royals on Thursday night.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona tried to loosen up the Indians clubhouse a little bit heading into a key weekend series in Kansas City with the Royals. The results appeared evident on the field, as the Indians routed the Royals by a 10-1 final, but had a scare in the sixth inning when starting pitcher Corey Kluber had to exit the ball game early with an injury.
In a game that had plenty of positives to draw upon, Indians’ players, brass, and fans were all collectively holding their breath in the sixth when Kluber broke from the mound and appeared hobbled as he attempted to cover first base on an infield single. He was able to talk his way back onto the mound in what was then a 6-1 contest and pitched to another batter, but after the base hit, Francona and the team trainer were back out to the mound to escort Kluber from the game.
It was announced late in the game that Kluber left with a right ankle sprain.
Tuesday night has forced me to break character a little bit.
Had it not been for 104 recaps on this website already this season, I might have opted to skip the events that transpired at Fenway Park on Tuesday so as to not relive them again. But, out of respect for the process, the show, as they say, must go on. To the handful of people who elect to subject themselves to what follows, either for a first time or for a painful repeated dose, this is my apology. You have been warned. Turn back now.
Tuesday night was the kind of ball game that few who watched will forget for quite some time and one has to wonder about the long-term repercussions on those who played the game itself. It had a little bit of everything, with the exception of good pitching, and was an entertaining game from start to finish for both sides, albeit for different reasons along the way. The ball flew all around Fenway Park. There was a highlight reel catch in center field by Austin Jackson that will be played throughout the rest of the 2017 regular season, if not into the foreseeable future. There were several lead changes, two very significant wild pitches late by big-time closers, and a pair of game-changing home runs in the ninth.
This recap should be about how the Indians tagged Chris Sale for seven runs, including five in the first two innings. It should be about Francisco Lindor becoming just the second player to take Craig Kimbrel deep on an 0-2 count in his lengthy career and that the shot over the Monster tied the game in the top of the ninth. It should be about how the Indians loaded the bases with two outs in the frame and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch from the All-Star closer.
A mark of a good team is being able to find new ways to win. The Cleveland Indians did that on Saturday night as, after giving up an early four-run lead, Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth to score Carlos Santana with the go-ahead run in a 5-4 Tribe win.
The Indians (57-45) pushed their winning streak to nine straight games with the highly unusual ending to a Corey Kluber start from the southside of Chicago. Coupled with a late loss by Kansas City against the Boston Red Sox, the Indians’ lead over the Royals in the American League Central has grown to three games.